A case closed for five years, almost as dead as the vanished girl in question. Everyone living in the town of Little Kilton believes that Sal Singh murdered his girlfriend Andie Bell and subsequently committed suicide. Well, almost everyone. Pippa Fitz-Amobi never really agreed with the final verdict of the case; too many unexplained variables never lined up quite right. She decides to investigate the shady mystery for her senior year capstone project in an effort to expose the truth. Pip plunges straight into a world of lies and loose ends that threaten to expose the crime’s true nature, but someone out there would prefer that those secrets stay buried…
This book was so engrossing and suspenseful that I stayed up far too late on a school night just to finish it. Clues, characters, and red herrings are intricately interwoven to weave a complicated web of secrets. Right from the start, the plot engaged me and kept me reeled in with constant suspense. I found the plot to be very well-planned at a good pace to keep the story moving. Additionally, several exciting twists kept me on my toes and genuinely surprised me with how they revealed new details about characters I might have otherwise ruled out. While the mystery was incredibly interesting, I also enjoyed reading about the small moments of Pip’s everyday life and her friends and family. Those background/side characters had their own development, details, and quirks, which made the story more well-rounded and believable.
Pip did do a couple of questionable things in the name of sleuthing, mostly by invading the privacy of others in several ways. I wish she could have faced consequences for that, and also that she could have had a bit more trouble working through the clues in general. It was nice when things tied together neatly, but sometimes clues lined up a bit too easily. Overall, it may have been a bit too outlandish of a mystery for it to be completely realistic, but I find the complexity and intrigue of the mystery to be much more important than realism. When it comes to those factors, this book nailed it and I’d highly recommend it as an enthralling quick read!
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.
Everyone’s heard the old saying “Live every day like it’s your last,” but how would you live knowing it was your last day? This is the position Rufus Emeterio and Mateo Torrez find themselves in when they receive the dreaded phone calls from Death-Cast, a service that calls people to let them know they’ll be dying at some point that day. Mateo and Rufus connect through the Last Friend app, one designed to help Deckers (people who have received the Death-Cast call) find friends in their final hours. Their bond strengthens not only as they work through the hardships of premature goodbyes and impending doom, but also as they live their day to the fullest and make the most of each moment, whether that be playing on childhood playgrounds, engaging in deep conversations, or facing fears and past trauma through exciting new experiences.
I really enjoyed this book and I found it to be very well-written. The characters had distinct personalities that felt authentic and realistic. It’s especially notable how Mateo and Rufus complemented each other well and helped each other along in their character development by pushing each other out of their comfort zones and healing pain from the past. I also loved how the author included perspectives from multiple characters; it was fascinating hearing each of their opinions and thoughts on death even if they hadn’t received a Death-Cast call that day. This book also had great casual LGBTQ+ representation and some very sweet romance.
The one issue I had was how long it took for me to become fully invested in the book. It had a bit of a slow start so it took me a while to really get into it, but I was hooked when the momentum started to pick up. I found this book very thought-provoking in regards to how it discussed the value of savoring every moment in life when death always lurks just around the corner. Overall, this is a great read and I highly recommend giving it a try!
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is the first book in a riveting dystopian fantasy series with lots of adventure and plot twists. The book is set sometime in the future when Earth has been taken over by the Reestablishment, an evil organization that is destroying the world after baiting its people with empty promises. Our main character is Juliette Ferrars, a 17-year-old girl with a deadly power: her touch can kill. No one understands what’s wrong with her, including doctors, and she is shunned by everyone she knows because of her mysterious curse. After a terrible accident occurs, Juliette is sent to a mental asylum where she stays for nearly two years before her life drastically changes. She is discovered by Warner, the son of the supreme commander of North America. He knows about her powers, and he wants to use them in nefarious ways to benefit the Reestablishment. Juliette must escape her difficult situation and figure out who she really is to find safety in her dangerous world.
The Shatter Me books are probably the best books I’ve ever read. I think the elements of dystopia and fantasy are very well combined. There are characters with fascinating abilities trying to survive in and take back a world run by a cruel, evil organization. The plot is well-written and there are plenty of surprises that you definitely don’t see coming, especially in the fourth book when you learn that Juliette is not who you thought she was. The characters are well-developed and interesting, and I enjoyed getting to read from the point of views of different characters. I would highly recommend this series to anyone interested in the dystopian/fantasy genre!
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.
Picture this: the year is 1984. You live in a society ruled by Big Brother, a fearsome mascot whose ominous face fills enormous posters everywhere you look. There is constant surveillance in every part of your life, no matter what you are doing or where you go. Government propaganda is forced upon you multiple times a day. One wrong action, however small, could get you tortured and killed. Clothing and food are strictly rationed among other things. You must use the words of Newspeak, the language that cuts out “unnecessary” words in the English language, and regularly practice mental ideas like crimestop and doublethink to stay in line. You are a member of the Party in the book 1984, and you lead a life similar to Winston Smith, the main character of this story.
However, Winston doesn’t believe in the Party’s values and beliefs. He has been against them for seven years, but can’t do anything about it as trying to act on these thoughts would lead to certain death. As the book progresses, Winston does figure out a way to go against the Party and Big Brother, but I suggest checking out the book to read all about that!
There are parallels to today’s society within 1984, like invasive surveillance and other issues that are becoming increasingly prevalent. Reading 1984 gave me some interesting insight as to what 2019 could become if we let technology and surveillance become much more controlling and let them be abused. 1984 is a fascinating read about a dystopian world that isn’t as different from 2019 as one might think.
Reading Rocks! is a great volunteer opportunity for the summer! Teens can come in and be read to by an elementary school age child practicing their reading skills, keep up their reading over the summer, and gain confidence in reading. You help the child pick out a book they are interested in from a book cart, give gentle corrections of mispronunciations, and provide lots of encouragement to keep them motivated! If you have younger siblings, this is a great opportunity for them to improve their reading skills.
The program runs every Saturday from June 15 to August 31. There is a mandatory one-time orientation you must attend, and they occur 15 minutes before each session at 10:45. The program starts at 11:00 and runs till 10:45, so it’s 45 minutes long, but you can count it as an hour of volunteering. Grab an application and sign up at the Mission Viejo Library’s Children’s Reference Desk!
Parents, you can sign up your child for this program by visiting the Children’s Reference Desk or calling 949-830-5107.
I went to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa and it was an amazing experience! Charles M. Schulz created the comic strip Peanuts and all the characters like Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Snoopy that we know and love.
I got to learn about Schulz’s life and see a replica of his study where there was a video that showed footage of Schulz drawing his characters and describing them. There were so many old, original comics to read which was really fun and interesting. There were also descriptions beside each comic explaining why Schulz would incorporate a certain object, sport, or emotion. An example of this would be hockey because he played the sport professionally for a few years and included it in a few comics.
Additionally, there were many interactive features such as a huge dog bowl, Snoopy dog house, and thought/speech bubbles also you could make your own comic book scene. There was also an recorded interview of Donna Wold, the real person who inspired the Little Red-Haired Girl in Schulz’s comics, that you could listen to through headphones.
It was such a fun experience to visit this museum, read comics, and learn more about Charles M. Schulz and it’s something you should definitely do if you’re in the Santa Rosa area!
The year is 2044. The Earth is in ruins and people are starving, all because of the energy crisis and human neglect. Humanity’s escape from all that is the incredible virtual reality game called OASIS. It was created by the genius video game creator James Halliday who, when he died, set up a contest to find the Easter egg he’s hidden in the grand OASIS. Whoever finds it will get Halliday’s inheritance, which is an enormous sum of money.
This story follows Wade, an introverted, awkward boy who has grown up with the OASIS. His parents died while he was young, so he’s forced to live with his cruel aunt in a precarious tower of trailers. He spends his days finishing up his last year of high school and mostly researching every 80s TV show, comic, movie, and book for clues on how to find Halliday’s egg.
When Wade begins to progress in the hunt for the egg and find the first key, he receives a lot of attention and soon becomes targeted by the IOI, another game company who wants to win the contest so they can steal the OASIS and change it. Wade must find the egg before someone else or the IOI can to save himself and possibly the world.
I really enjoyed this book! It’s so interesting because of its futuristic, sci-fi genre and many, many references to games, books, TV shows, and movies. This is a unique, fascinating book that will have you turning its pages rapidly till the end!
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.
Meet Melody. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, has a photographic memory, and experiences different colors and tastes when listening to music. The thing is, Melody is almost eleven years old and hasn’t spoken her whole life. She has cerebral palsy which makes it impossible for her to walk, talk, and even feed herself.
At school, she is stuck learning the same boring alphabet lessons again and again because no one thinks she’s smart or can learn. Melody is going out of her mind with being so limited until she discovers something that allows her to have a voice for the first time, but not everyone is ready to hear it and listen.
I enjoyed this book so much. I learned a lot more about cerebral palsy and how it affects people in so many ways. You can really feel Melody’s struggles and triumphs, and this book is engaging and unique from start to finish. I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to try something thought-provoking and interesting.
Out Of My Mind by Sharon Draper is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.
Sophie Foster is an elf, a powerful girl who lives in a glittering world full mythical creatures, fantastical places, and elves with every superpower-like ability under the sun.
But with so much going on, Sophie can never seem to figure out what the Neverseen, the evil group of rebels, will hit them with next. After Sophie’s human parents are kidnapped by the Neverseen, Sophie finds her sister Amy in her human home and takes her to the Lost Cities to keep her safe. Keefe and Sophie travel to Ravagog, the home of the ogres, to try to form an alliance with the ruler of the ogres, King Dimitar. Through it all, Sophie and her friends are trying to figure out what Keefe’s mom means when she talks about his legacy and how it is connected to Nightfall, a mysterious place where they must go to discover the elves’ true past with humans.
I love this book and this series so much. Next to Harry Potter it’s definitely one of my favorite series of books. I recommend reading this book and the rest in this awesome series!
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.